Ah Summer, when any body of water offers opportunity for drowning, any mountain offers cliffs to push someone off, and any piece of sporting equipment offers potential uses not contemplated in the rules of the game. Summer offers the chance to be murdered not at home but on vacation, not cooped up inside but in the great outdoors. And with this issue, the chance to read about crime and mayhem while the sun shines and the birds sing.
Several stories in this issue bring adventure and travel to the forefront, starting with Mary Angela’s “Five Bullet Friday,” in which a travel agent’s vocation comes with deadly consequences. New York City is the setting for the murder of a nonbinary transplant from Iowa in “Death Will Take the High Line” by Elizabeth Zelvin. A solo hiker on a scavenger hunt finds danger lurking in the quiet woods in Maurissa Guibord’s thriller “Dead Letterbox.” A rookie cop in Hawaii has the wrong kind of romantic encounter in Albert Tucher’s “The Conversation Killer.” A stop at a greasy spoon and a poker game with bikers prove fortuitous for Peter Colt’s private eye in “Ladies and Deuces.” And Ecuador is the setting for Tom Larsen’s series featuring wily Capitán Guillén, who in “El Chico Maravilla” finds himself set up to take the fall for a murder.
An aging actor known for a horror flick finds himself in a real-life horrific situation in Michael Mallory’s “Iguana Don.” In Rob Lopresti’s “The Lord of Falling Objects,” the possession of superpowers isn’t quite like in the movies. And a private investigator cooped up in the hospital still solves a murder in Josh Pachter’s “Vampire Shift.”
We welcome J.M. Taylor to our pages this month with a story of love and work in “Florence Uglietta Solari: A Full Life in 19 Fragments.” Janice Law brings us a tale of a sharp co-ed and her cat who see trouble coming in “The Fitz.” Mark Thielman’s “Spud Stud” P.I. is back on the job representing the Potato Advisory Board—and taking on a murder—at a turkey bowling competition in “A Case of Fowl Play.” And it turns out that the passing of years hardly dampens the shock of betrayal when South African ex-pats in England learn that a woman they considered a comrade had been feeding information to the apartheid security police in Linda Mannheim’s tale “The Confession.”
Finally, this issue also features “The Man Who Went Down Under” by Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson, the 15th winner of our Black Orchid Novella Award, which AHMM cosponsors with the Wolfe Pack.
And as always, you’ll find insightful book reviews, challenging puzzles, and our popular Mysterious Photograph flash fiction contest and winning entries to help you while away a lazy summer.
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by Maurissa Guibord
Maggie slowed her pace as the trail reached a fork at the top of a gentle rise. She set her walking stick against the gnarled ridges of an old maple and pulled a neatly folded sheet of paper from her pocket. It should be close now. Maggie nudged her glasses lower on her nose and peered at the next set of clues over the top of the frames.
Continue to the right on the bridle trail approximately 0.5 miles until you reach an outcropping of stony ledge. READ MORE
by Mary Angela Honerman
Lucy Bell was a planner. From the first day of kindergarten, she’d planned out her clothes in advance. Monday through Friday, her room was decked out in striped leggings, solid tops, and oversized bows. Many years later, she would credit the habit with the creation of Five Bullet Friday. Five Bullet Friday was a bulleted list she posted every Friday for her staff. She kept the lists short and sweet, like herself. (She was exactly five feet tall and one hundred and five pounds. The five pounds bothered her.) The lists always started with verbs and encouraged employees to do something. A nudge in the right direction for the following week kept the team positive and upbeat. READ MORE
Black Orchid Novella Award
by Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson
“And she said I might have to travel to Australia to find it.” It being the Sun of Sumatra, the massive yellow diamond which was the centerpiece of Mrs. Cleaver’s aigrette.
Mom stood at the gas stove, working two frying pans simultaneously, her short hair an unnatural red crown after a recent dye job. She turned to look at me, uneven teeth visible in her smile. “You really are something. You’d believe it if someone told you they’re going to send you to the moon. I worry for you. I do. Sometimes you need to take a hard look at what people are saying.” The crackle of bacon called her back to the stove top. A spatter of grease landed on her bare arm as she turned. READ MORE
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
We often hope the past remains a known quantity, a set of moments settled, done, and permanently behind us. But the past can be as opaque as the future, and as insistent, shape-shifting, and interfering as the present. Long ago emotions can time travel into the now, and the smallest of past decisions can prove more powerful than anticipated, destabilizing the best-laid foundations. This month, Booked and Printed explores protagonists who find themselves waylaid by versions of their younger selves, and haunted by past choices that refuse to rest. READ MORE
We give a prize of $25 to the person who invents the best mystery story (in 250 words or less, and be sure to include a crime) based on the photograph provided in each issue. The story will be printed in a future issue. READ THE MOST RECENT WINNING STORY
by Lee Lofland
The 4th Amendment demands that all searches and seizures of property and people must be reasonable and based on probable cause, not mere suspicion. Therefore, when police need to cross the line to invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, they must have a properly signed search warrant in hand. READ MORE
Acrostic puzzle by Arlene Fisher
Solve the clues to reveal an interesting observation about an author and their work! Shh! The solution to the puzzle will appear in the next issue. CURRENT ISSUE'S PUZZLE
by Mark Lagasse
Unscramble the letters of each numbered entry to spell the name of a famous sleuth. MOST RECENT PUZZLE